WASHINGTON – Better integration of education at all levels, eliminating the distinction between higher education and career preparation and more cooperation among local, state and federal policymakers can remove barriers and better prepare a workforce that increasingly includes individuals who don’t fit the traditional profile of college students.
Those were some of the suggestions made by two experts at a policy roundtable discussion Wednesday presented by Higher Learning Advocates, a nonprofit organization devoted to connecting federal policies with the needs of postsecondary students, employers and communities.
At the roundtable, titled “Bridging the Education-Workforce Divide: Upskilling America’s Workforce,” Dr. Aaron Thompson, president of the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education, and Dr. Jason Smith, partnership executive director of Bridging Richmond talent hub in Virginia, discussed challenges to bridging higher learning and the workforce and issues of access and success for students.
“The conversation itself is problematic and where to place emphasis in the pipeline,” said Smith. “We have to stop separating education and workforce preparation. We take those two parts and separate them out, and I think that’s really problematic. We need to start thinking about it all as being workforce preparation.”
Given the demographic changes and projections of postsecondary school populations in the United States, neotraditional or new traditional may be better terms for students long described as nontraditional. Through most of America’s recent history, the profile of an average college student was an unmarried middle-class White student attending full-time immediately after high school with parental financial support, living on campus and earning a bachelor’s degree in four to five years.
Today, however, only 13 percent of college students live on campus, 26 percent are parenting, 38 percent are older than 25, 40 percent attend part-time, 42 percent live at or below the federal poverty line, 47 percent are financially independent, 57 percent attend two-year colleges and 58 percent work while in school.
Add to those factors the unprecedented cultural diversity of student populations and diversity of postsecondary education options and the need to remove barriers to quality, affordability and successful outcomes for students becomes clear, said moderator and HLA deputy executive director Emily Bouck West.
A significant change in recent years, Thompson observed, is more students who perceive that they don’t have access to higher education and that they lack opportunities to succeed in that space, in spite of financial aid and other support systems designed to help students achieve both.
“Our job is to put value back in that value proposition,” said Thompson. “How do we change that? How do we talk about quality?”
A central part of the discussion should be greater alignment of educational arenas from preK-12 to two-year and four-year institutions, Thompson said. Providing quality education in a seamless continuum with career preparation as a central driver can help skeptical prospective postsecondary students – especially from underrepresented groups – see that education beyond high school is affordable and valuable, doable in a reasonable time and leads to employment, he said.
Breaking down silos between different types of postsecondary institutions can benefit students, said Smith, whether community colleges, baccalaureate programs, vocational-technical programs or online for-profit learning.
Data-sharing and articulation agreements that promote more thoughtful and efficient transfer of credit between schools can benefit students, Smith added. For example, a student may transfer from a community college to a four-year university without having earned a credential, but may find after one or two courses that those credits can be reverse-transferred to the community college and qualify the student for an associate’s degree.
Post-secondary students drop out or stop out for a range of personal issues, from financial to family concerns. Better credit-transfer rules and other such policy changes – which local, state and federal policies could promote – would increase the number of students completing a credential and help move more workers into the employment pipeline.
“One very different thing for students today is it is no longer the experience that you went to one institution and stayed there until you completed it,” said Smith. “People now are looking for learning they need for employment now. And where can I go later to add on? How can I stack into something that helps me over a long period of time?”
Smith and Thompson agreed that employers and schools must begin to work more closely together, and earlier in the formal education process, to ensure that student learning fits employer needs and expectations.
“There’s a need to get employers more involved on the front end in creating programs that matter and teach what they’re looking for,” said Thompson. “Everybody doesn’t have to go to college, but should have education post-high school that works. We need to be far more intentional in putting people on pathways, with employers engaged throughout the process for a continual-improvement model. We in higher education have to rethink how we’re doing business. And so do employers.”
Policies around financial aid also need to be revisited as both an access issue and a success issue, Thompson and Smith said. Paying for school and having the financial resources to meet human needs are concerns for traditional students as well as students from low-income and underrepresented groups, and guidelines around student loans and the Pell grant should be aligned with those needs, Thompson said.
Policymakers at the state and federal levels can play a role by incentivizing “disconnected” systems in higher ed to work better together for post-secondary students, said Smith.
Curriculum redesign informed by the employment sector as early as elementary school and wise use of outcomes data can close completion gaps and help students become culturally competent workforce participants, Thompson said.
“Schools need to align ourselves with a student success paradigm so we’re on the same page when talking about issues of quality and engagement,” he added.
Treating higher education as one system rather than multiple systems and helping students experience wrap-around services in a more integrated way “would go a long way” toward promoting the success of all students, Smith said.
“There needs to be a shift from an access-for-all mentality to a success-for-all mentality.”
LaMont Jones can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can follow him on Twitter @DrLaMontJones.
Mobile apps have become “must have” classroom tools, and students are naturally drawn to their interactivity. Whether you’re looking for an app to help with classroom management, exploring different languages, or figuring out tricky geometry problems, there’s an app for anything and everything.
With hundreds of thouands of apps out there, finding the right ones to use can be a challenge. To help you navigate the waters, NEA Member Benefits asked your fellow NEA members for information about apps they find useful in their classrooms. Below are their picks along with some helpful advice.
One year into a four-year $49 million initiative to improve training for aspiring school principals, a new RAND Corporation report found that seven universities are beginning to change their principal preparation programs to better reflect the real-world demands of the job.
The seven universities participating in The Wallace Foundation’s University Principal Preparation Initiative (UPPI) are redesigning their programs by working with local high-need school districts that hire their graduates as well as accreditation agencies in their states—a move not typical of most other programs.
“Past research shows that successful principal preparation programs should include partnerships with districts,” said Rebecca Herman, a senior researcher at RAND and a lead author on the report. “Our report illustrates such engagement is feasible, valuable and critical to creating these programs.”
Principals help set school vision and culture, supporting teacher effectiveness and, ultimately, improving student achievement. Some educators say many university programs that train principals favor theory over practice and provide too little field experience in which candidates learn by taking on duties of school leaders. The initiative seeks to boost such programs by generating lessons for other universities on how best to design a program that prepares effective principals.
The RAND report found that, during the first year of the initiative, programs are working to better align programs with expected skills needed upon graduation, as well as ensuring their programs meet state and national leadership standards. All have taken evidence-based self-assessments to see how programs can be improved and developed models to guide their redesign. Programs are trying to develop a more coherent curriculum that integrates theory and practice, and offer more hands-on training opportunities and greater collaboration with school districts by asking practitioner-leaders to work as part-time instructors.
When a foreigner resides among you in your land, do not mistreat them. The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt. I am the Lord your God. — Leviticus 19:33-34
Every third weekend of October, many thousands of people of faith come together all across America for the National Observance of Children’s Sabbaths celebrations launched by the Children’s Defense Fund to unite congregations across religious traditions to respond to the divine mandate to nurture, protect and advocate for all children.
This year, congregations will focus on faithful sustained action to end child poverty, protect children from gun violence and end the heartless separation of children from their families.
Those who talk about our nation’s cruel treatment of immigrant families will likely lift up the mandate in all great faiths to welcome and care for the foreigner and the stranger. But as people of faith across our country call for us to treat immigrants with compassion, the Trump administration is doing just the opposite. Last week the administration published a proposed change to the federal “public charge” rule that has the potential to plunge millions of children and their immigrant families into poverty, hunger and homelessness.
When individuals apply for lawful permanent residency or entry into the United States, immigration officials consider whether that person is, or is likely to become, reliant on the government — in other words, a “public charge.” The current longstanding federal policy is to consider whether an individual will rely on the government for more than half of their income by examining whether he or she receives cash assistance or will need long-term care benefits. But the unprecedented change proposed by the Trump administration would allow immigration officials to deny green cards and visas to immigrants who use public benefits from an expanded list of programs including non-emergency Medicaid, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), housing assistance and the Medicare Part D low income subsidy. This proposal threatens millions of children and their families.
With this change, the administration threatens to shut down legal paths to citizenship for families that use these safety net programs they depend on — and are legally entitled to — to feed their children, put a roof over their heads and keep them healthy. Even people who haven’t used these programs in the past can be denied a green card or visa if there is a suspected risk they are “likely” to use them in the future.
Nearly one in four children in America has at least one immigrant parent, and nearly 90 percent of those children are citizens. By making legal use of safety net programs a “heavily weighted” factor in determining whether an individual qualifies as a public charge, millions of immigrants will be subject to this expanded definition of public charge, which is likely to cause both immigrants and their children to forego crucial benefits such as food assistance, health coverage and safe housing for fear of the consequences.
This is profoundly unjust, immoral, un-American and downright shameful. America is a nation of immigrants (including the first lady and her parents). The words inscribed on the Statue of Liberty call on us to welcome those “huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” But the cruel immigration policies of the Trump administration force families into the shadows, suffocating them with harsh measures meant to punish them for daring to dream of a better life for their children in America.
Foreigners to our land deserve to be treated as our neighbors. Their children deserve to breathe free. But these cruel Trump policies meant to punish adults and deter immigration end up doing huge harm to children. Is this who we are called to be as a nation? We must stand together and in a unified voice reject this radical change to the public charge rule and demand an end to the cruel immigration policies of this administration which continue to victimize children each and every day.
There are three things you can do today to take a stand against this attack on immigrant families and children. First, go to https://protectingimmigrantfamilies.org and submit a comment against the proposed change to the public charge rule. The administration is required by law to review these public comments so now is the time to make your voice heard.
Second, participate in this year’s National Observance of Children’s Sabbaths celebration. There are resources available for leading discussions with children and adults alike about welcoming immigrant families.
Third, look around your own community and take part in local efforts to support immigrant and refugee families who need your help now more than ever. Together we can resist unjust policies and deliver on our nation’s commitment to those who come here seeking a better life.
And those of us who profess Christianity as our faith should remember that baby Jesus was an immigrant in a foreign land. Let us welcome Him in our land today.
Marian Wright Edelman is president of the Children’s Defense Fund.
When the Two-Year College English Association of Mississippi held its annual conference on Sept. 21, Holmes Community College Goodman campus professors Jessica Brown, William C. Moorer and LaShonda Levy accepted leadership positions with the association. Brown and Moorer will serve two-year terms as co-chairs, and Levy will serve as Holmes’ representative on the executive committee.
TYCAM, a Two-Year College English Association-Southeast affiliate and part of the National Council of Teachers of English, provides resources to help further English teaching methods and practices in Mississippi’s community colleges. Presidents of those schools and the Mississippi State Board of Community and Junior colleges support it.
In their positions as co-chairs, Brown and Moorer will have the responsibility of planning and running TYCAM conferences and textbook publications. Levy will serve as the liaison between Holmes’ English faculty and TYCAM, and will also work with the executive committee to run the annual conferences.
Brown, Moorer and Levy teach composition, as well as developmental English and reading at Holmes. Brown, co-chair of the college’s English department, also teaches American literature. Moorer, who also teaches creative writing, is the director of the Goodman Writing Center and has served as Holmes’ TYCAM representative on the executive committee since 2012. Besides composition and developmental English and reading, Levy teaches African American literature.
For more information, visit holmescc.edu.
Four State Universities to Share $20 Million NSF Grant
Jackson State University announced on Sept. 19 that it will be partnering with Mississippi State University, the University of Southern Mississippi and the University of Mississippi to establish the Center for Emergent Molecular Optoelectronics, an interdisciplinary, multi-institutional materials research program. MSU will serve as the project’s administrative lead, and USM will serve as the science lead.
The center will focus on collaborative research in optoelectronics, energy and biotechnology, especially in relation to the study of organic semiconductors, or solid, nonmetallic materials that exhibit electrical conductivity.
Construction of the new St. Paul’s Hollywood Library branch is underway. Charleston County Public Library (CCPL) and Charleston County Government officials kicked off the construction of the new facility during a groundbreaking ceremony on Oct. 30. The 15,000-square foot facility will be located on Highway 165 next to the new Hollywood Town Hall.
The new library will include:
Adult, children and teen areas
An auditorium that can be divided into two meeting rooms (100-person capacity)
A meeting room/makerspace for do-it-yourself (DIY) projects (25-person capacity)
Learning Lab (Computer Instruction Room)
Contemporary Lowcountry Design
The library branch, which is scheduled to open in late 2019, will be part of a larger municipal complex that will include the new Hollywood Town Hall building as well as an aquatics center operated by the Charleston County Parks and Recreation Commission.
Local residents approved a referendum to build five new libraries, and renovate or upgrade 13 others in November 2014. The first phase of the overall project was designed to solicit community input for the five new library locations. One of CCPL’s top priorities during this process involved obtaining practical information from public library users. The Glick Boehm architectural firm presented their design of the new branch during a community meeting in June 2017. Visit bit.ly/stpaulshollywood to see the design.
Visit www.ccpl.org/construction for monthly status updates and to view updated branch designs presented during past community meetings.
Congresswoman Frederica S. Wilson (D-FL 24th District) has a mission – pull young Black boys out of the school-to-prison pipeline. She hopes her 5,000 Role Models of Excellence Project is the ticket to providing diplomas and degrees instead of prison sentences.
Wilson had big help pushing her project during the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s Annual Legislative Conference held at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Northwest, D.C.
The Rev. Al Sharpton was on the panel, as well as actor and activist Erika Alexander, “America To Me” director Steve James, Dr. Cedric Alexander, national president of the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives and George Ray III, current contestant on the “Grand Hustle” series on BET Networks.
The Excellence project started in Miami-Dade County when Wilson saw the young men her community rushed into the prison system, working in the drug trade or dropping out of school.
On a national level there were 1,506,800 people in prison at the end of 2016, according to the Department of Justice. There were 487,300 Black prisoners, or 41.3 percent. This is in comparison to 39 percent White prisoners.
When it comes to school drop outs, the number of Black boys who drop out between the ages of 16-24 has dropped nationally to 6.2 percent. But that number is still higher that the national average and White students’ 6.1 percent and 5.2 percent respectively, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
In 1993, when Wilson started her program, it almost immediately caught national attention. Several sitting presidents and vice-presidents, including Barack Obama have supported the project. The initiative provides leadership and mentoring to young Black boys during a critical time in their lives.
The panel dissected many of the issues that impact a child’s trajectory to the school to prison system. Dr. Alexander spoke about police officers using more discretion and thinking of the larger community when arresting people.
“The law is what the law is,” Dr. Alexander said, who heads up the National Organization of Black law Enforcement Executives. “But what we can ask them [police officers] to do is use some judgement. Do you really want to hurt someone over an infraction? We as police officers have to have discretion.”
“I think what we are beginning to see as we’re training officers to have better relationships, we find some, not all, but some are mindful of the fact that there is a larger community watching you.”
Mayor Oliver G. Gilbert III, who is mayor of Miami Gardens, Florida, said citizens need to be mindful of how much they want police involved with their students at schools.
“We can’t over police our schools,” Gilbert said. “We can’t use police at schools as conduct supervisors. Understand if you ask a police officer to come to our schools and they witness a crime that kid is going to jail.”
Gilbert further cautioned, “We have to be careful of the part we are playing in this narrative.”
For George Ray, III who currently stars on “The Grand Hustle” series, Congresswoman Wilson intervened at the right time in his life. “She’s my fairy godmother,” Ray said to the packed crowd. The business professor spoke of facing 15 years in prison at 15 years old. The congresswoman happened upon his life and “instead of peddling drugs I had someone peddling hope.”
“She took me everywhere with her, she kept me so busy I couldn’t get in trouble if I tried,” Ray said of his relationship with Wilson.
Currently, the 5000 Role Models of Excellence Project services 105 schools within Miami-Dade County Public Schools (37 Elementary, 35 Middle/K-8, and 33 Senior High), according to the organization.
Countdown to Class 2018 school uniform drive has begun
DALLAS – July 31, 2018 – Texans Can Academies, a non-profit organization giving young Texans a second chance at life through education, today announced that they are sponsoring a back-to-school fund drive, Countdown to Class, for their students who need assistance getting ready for the approaching school year. As summertime comes to an end, students across the state of Texas are gearing up for the upcoming first day of school. While some are out shopping for new clothes or visiting their campus to pick up their school uniforms, others are faced with the dilemma of affording new clothes. Texans Can Academies understands the challenges a lot of families face with back-to-school expenses and wants their students to begin the school year with confidence and refreshed outlooks.
From now until September, Texans Can Academies is hosting their annual Countdown to Class 2018 Uniform Drive to raise funds that will benefit students at their 14 campuses across the state of Texas. The open-enrollment public charter high school has campuses located in Austin, Dallas, Fort Worth, Houston and San Antonio. The funds from the drive will benefit students and their families by providing brand new clothes that fit properly to wear as the school’s uniform of khaki pants and white collared shirts. A $75 donation will provide one pair of pants, two shirts, socks and a belt for one student.
“We know the expense of school supplies and clothing can put a major dent in the household budget for a lot of families,” said Richard Marquez, President and CEO of Texans Can Academies. “All donations will help our families provide back-to-school items so that their children will feel proud and comfortable during the school year. It’s especially important for teenagers to feel confident in what they are wearing when they are in school so they focus on learning.”
A 2018 study by Deloitte found that the average United States household planned to spend $510 per child on back-to-school shopping. The National Retail Federation estimates that families shopping for students this year will spend the most on clothing, about $237 per school-age child.
The cost of clothes and school supplies for teenagers can create financial and emotional strains on families that cannot be met and can lead to a child dropping out of school. Texans Can Academies takes steps every year to offer solutions to any obstacles students face outside their classrooms to help them remain in school and graduate.
“We know that if children don’t have school supplies or the proper clothes to wear to school, they may decide to stay home,” continued Marquez. “Our goal throughout our campuses and programming is to break down barriers to educational success. We are asking for help to raise funds for our kids to have clothes they are proud to wear to school throughout the school year. All children deserve to come to school wearing clothes that fit comfortably and feeling like they look their best.”
Texans Can Academies believes in providing the highest quality education for all students. The high school’s curriculum has been designed to prepare their students for life beyond high school graduation with skills and concepts such as Marquez Reading, thinking skills, college preparation, workforce etiquette and more. Classes are structured with a learning, yet nurturing environment that touches on student-centered decision making.
Serving the education system for 33 years, Texans Can Academies provides open enrollment, public high schools of choice for students who have struggled in traditional high school settings. To participate in Texans Can Academies’ 2018-2019 Uniform Drive, please visit www.texanscan.org/countdown2class2018.
About Texans Can Academies Celebrating 33 years of providing the highest quality education for all students, Texans Can schools are graduating thinkers. Texans Can Academies are a unique network of 14 charter schools located in Austin, Dallas, Fort Worth, Houston and San Antonio. The schools are tuition-free, open enrollment, public high schools of choice serving students who have struggled in a traditional high school setting. To date, more than 143,000 youth have been given a second chance at life with the opportunity to pursue their dreams. Cars for Kids is a 501(c)3 tax exempt organization benefiting Texans Can Academies and is the only car donation program in Texas that is operated by the charity it serves. For more information, visit: www.texanscan.org or www.carsforkids.org.
A while ago, I joined my Democratic colleagues on the state and federal level in expressing concerns about last year’s Federal Communications Commission (FCC) decision to repeal Net Neutrality rules. However, aside from the obvious reasons for alarm, I am also anxious about how this issue impacts social justice movements like #MeToo and #BlackLivesMatter.
The concept of net neutrality is that all searches on the internet should be treated the same and bars internet service providers from blocking, slowing, or giving preferential treatment to certain online sites, services or content. With the internet becoming such a household staple and commonly used public resource, the Obama administration believed we needed to treat it like other forms of telecommunications that have safeguards to protect free and open access to the public.
This week, a majority of the United States Senate agreed. In taking up a vote to repeal the FCC’s net neutrality rule changes, a bi-partisan group of federal legislators are trying to stop new rules put in place by the Trump administration from taking effect on June 12th. However, the Senate vote may be largely symbolic, as few expect Republicans in the U.S House of Representatives to even take up the measure. But make no mistake, this is a hugely important issue.
Net Neutrality ensures that the internet remains free and accessible in this country, with increased transparency that treats all content equally on the internet. However, Trump’s rules changes could result in groups that want to suppress sites dedicated to women’s rights, like #MeToo, censor or suppress these views on the internet. Women have been able to bypass male dominated industry “gatekeepers” and get their message out with a simple Facebookpost. Whether making a public statement or organizing a rally, we have clearly seen the impact of unfettered access to the internet. It is not impossible to imagine broadband providers favoring some content and slowing or blocking others that they find controversial.
Without doubt, social justice movements like #BlackLivesMatter found their voice, amplified their message and elevated their cause in great part through the use of social media. It took traditional media a long time to catch up to their calls for equity in treatment, while they were reaching millions around the world via the internet.
Additionally, Net Neutrality was meant to prevent large corporations from blocking access to certain websites and charging users higher rates to use what are called internet “fast lanes”. It was understood that we needed to create a level playing field for local businesses and small start-ups to allow them to compete in the global economy. Trump’s actions will likely hurt everyday Wisconsin entrepreneurs.
Given these concerns, there are states that are now drafting bills to create their own Net Neutrality protection legislation. Like the state of New York, I am exploring a bill to require state contracts only be awarded to internet service providers that are compliant with net neutrality guidelines. We have an obligation to protect our residents when the federal government won’t.
Watching students from Howard employ a strategy proven to be successful during the civil rights movement illustrated several positive things including, not definitely not limited to, the importance of Blacks knowing our history.
The students were angry, they said, after learning that money for student aid had been funneled into the accounts and hands of unscrupulous school administrators. They were frustrated because these dollars were and are essential to their being able to continue and complete their matriculation at the historically Black university. And they wanted to know why the truth had been withheld from them for so long.
And so, they took a page out of the annals of the modern-day civil rights movement, taking over the university’s administration building, holding a sit-in for over a week, carefully articulating their demands and even conferring with local attorneys in order to make sure they weren’t straying too far afield from rights that Blacks finally received through blood, sweat and tears.
What’s most impressive is they were successful in their efforts.
We couldn’t help but smile — even being tempted to utter a more contemporary form of urban vernacular by shouting, “you go, young folks!”
Certainly, Howard University’s president, trustees and other top officials have significant work to do — particularly, but not limited to, regaining the trust of their students and their families.
But for the moment, a semblance of normality has been restored on the Howard University campus. And that’s something that happened, not because of the rhetorical musings of old folks but through the courageous actions of determined Black youth who showed that they care about their futures.
Were Dr. King still alive, he would undoubtedly find a lot has happened since thousands joined him for the historic March on Washington that may evoke feelings of frustration, disappointment — even rage in some cases. But he would be pleased, too.
Why? Because Black youth, at least those who have chosen to continue their educational pursuits at schools like Howard, historically founded in order to provide greater and more equitable opportunities for youth of color, have learned their history well. And they’re making the best of that history while recasting and reshaping it for use in tackling the challenges they now face in this brave new world.